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80 years of George Lucas: not just Star Wars, 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

George Lucas celebrate 80 years old from King Midas of Hollywood. Over the course of a half-century career, the dad of Star Wars he built a cinematic empire made of nine episodes of the saga, four of which he directed. Pioneer of special effects with the Industrial Light & MagicLucas reinvented the codes of the Seventh Art as exponent of the movement New Hollywood. In the 1992was awarded theOscar to memory Irving G. Thalberg. Twenty years laterhe gave up his LucasFilm to Walt Disney for 4.05 billion dollars opting for a quieter life.

The son of a stationer, George Walton Lucas Jr. is born and raised on a hickory ranch in Modesto, California. His family attended the opening of Disneyland in the summer of 1955, with little George enchanted by the magic of the amusement park. The Cinema it was, however, the second choice, after a serious accident in his modified Bianchina racing car prevented him from becoming a professional driver. Thus he entered the University of Southern California: the first to have a course dedicated to cinema.

During the closing ceremony of Cannes Film Festival 2024 (next May 25th), theinventor Of Star Wars and of Indiana Jones will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. The seventy-seventh edition of the event will also see him reunite with his mentor Francis Ford Coppola, a friend of his since his university days. We celebrate the iconic visionary with 10 of his most representative films.

The man who escaped from the future (1967)

Humanity has been replaced by thoughtless robots. Anyone familiar with Star Wars and then delve into Lucas' work, you will probably come across THX 1138. This is the original title of the debut fantasy-dystopian film by the Modesto director, shot as a graduate thesis at the University of Southern California.

American Graffiti (1973)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

Manifesto of the end of American innocence, the nostalgic cult tells the last summer of four teenagers of the 60s, based on different phases of Lucas himself's youth. The film deserves credit for launching the revival trend (from Grease to Happy Days) and a handful of future stars like Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and Harrison Ford.

Star Wars (1977)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

What more is there to say about the original Star Wars, as well as reiterating that it's one of the best science fiction films ever made? Perfect mix of old and new, Lucas takes inspiration from sci-fi classics and beyond (the film series Flash Gordon and Kurosawa's samurai films), updating everything and using revolutionary technologies. Later renamed Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

Lucas remains on the subject and entrusts the direction to Irvin Kershner, his professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The darkest chapter of the saga was filmed in Elstree Studios in London: the same studios where, at the same time, Stanley Kubrick was making The Shining but its extended productions (including a fire that destroyed part of the Overlook Hotel set) risked ruining the sequel to Star Wars.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

Like the previous one, this episode was not filmed by Lucas either. Producer Dino De Laurentiis entrusted it to David Lynch who however refused to direct Dunes (whose original space opera influenced the saga of Star Wars). The direction was then assigned to Richard Marquand wanted by Lucas after having seen it The eye of the needle.

The saga of Indiana Jones

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

George Lucas invented the archaeologist played by Harrison Ford and then gave him to his friend Steven Spielberg to create a trilogy (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The cursed temple, The Last Crusade), while the two were on vacation in Hawaii. Lucas named the daring protagonist after his dog Alaskan Malamute.

Willow (1988)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

Willow was conceived by Lucas in 1972 along the lines of The Lord of the Rings. George entrusted the direction of his fantasy to Ron Howard who had directed in American Graffiti. It is the first film to use the “morphing” process developed by his Industrial Light & Magic.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

The first episode of the prequel trilogy of Star Wars which tells how the young Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. A spectacular film that has just turned a quarter of a century: from the famous pod race to Darth Maul's acrobatic duels. In the first week that the trailer was shown in theaters, fans were said to have paid for tickets just to see that one and then leave before the movie began playing.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

«Goodbye» animatronic, the second episode of the prequel trilogy marks the debut of Yoda in CGI. With its 142 minutes of duration, it is the longest film in the Lucasian saga. The film boasts, despite itself, one of the most hated characters by fans: Jar Jar Binks.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

80 years of George Lucas not just Star Wars 10 of the visionary filmmaker's most iconic films

Without a doubt, the best of the prequels. Anakin's turn to the dark side of the Force concludes, with the events that allowed the Empire to destroy the Jedi Order and conquer the galaxy “far, far away.” The controversies aroused by the trilogy would have made Lucas lose enthusiasm, convincing him not to continue with the universe of Star Wars although he already had an idea for a sequel trilogy.

Source: Vanity Fair

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